2021 American League West: Standings and Predictions
The American League West is a mismatched bunch of teams that seem to do well under interesting circumstances. The A’s can field a team where nobody remotely is a superstar but still be one of the best teams in all of Major League Baseball. With all the controversy pertaining to the Houston Astros, a decent team still persists, hungry and eager. Let’s see how things shape up in the wild, wild west.
Oakland Athletics (Projected: 94-68)
The A’s are the scrappy bunch of the American League West, to say the least. They somehow squeak out wins that continuously put them in playoff contention. Too bad they never get too far at the top stage. Billy Beane every season somehow puts together a winning ballclub. Last year it was based on pitching, as it’ll be in 2021. Despite Liam Hendricks going to the White Sox, the Athletics will still have a formidable pitching staff and bullpen headlined by Chris Bassitt, their ace, and J.B. Wendelken, a key piece to their bullpen. Look to see them perform as they did in 2020. Offensively, the Athletics were still able to clinch last year’s AL West with a team batting average of .225 or 14th in the AL. Watch for bounce-back years for Ramon Laureano, Matt Chapman, and Matt Olsen. The power and the pitching will always be there, leading the team to success.
Houston Astros (Projected: 88-74)
The team that no one respects will prove they still have a decent ball club from pitching to the offense. On paper, they are absolutely still a solid team, albeit not as good as 2020. Losing Michael Brantley and George Springer are big blows to them, but they still have Second baseman Jose Altuve who will have a bounceback year, as well as Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa. Bregman and Correa are only 25 and 26 respectively, meaning they still have big offensive years ahead of them. I could see both of these guys hitting at least 25 home runs and driving in 90 Runs. The problem for Houston is their pitching. Zack Greinke is not getting any younger and the rest of the staff is unproven other than Lance McCuellers Jr. They could potentially push for a second wild-card spot, but they have tough competition.
Seattle Mariners (Projected: 85-77)
A team that now has a lot of potential ranked second in farm systems. Almost made the playoffs last year with their first group of youngsters. Before the offseason, Dipoto re-iterated that he would not go after any big-name free agents this year. Instead, he got help in the Rotation with James Paxton and Chris Flexen. He also got help in the bullpen with Rafael Montero and Kenyan Middleton. Instead of adding someone on the lineup side of things, they have received Mitch Haniger back from a year-long injury. He’s been said to look better than ever. If the cards play out well for the Mariners, they could sneak into the wildcard and second in the AL West.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Projected: 79-83)
The team with an absurdly long name will again be in fourth place. The Angels are a team you’d call underwhelming with unfortunate potential. Art Moreno never seems to get the pieces right to compliment Mike Trout. For Angel fans, it’s a moral victory Albert Pujols is in the last year of his stupidly expensive contract. The aging slugger is done and should retire. At least Anthony Rendon will back up Trout with a .300+ average and 20 home runs. David Fletcher and Shohei Ohtani will also be impactful offensive players. Now here’s a tough fact. The Angels do not have a pitcher on their team. Their “closer” Ty Buttrey had a 5.81 Earned Run Average and the entire pitching staff had an ERA of 5.09 which translates to 13th in the AL. I don’t see them improving much in this aspect, contributing to their sub .500 record once again.
Texas Rangers (Projected: 65-97)
Arguably the worst team in all of baseball, the Texas Rangers will follow their shaky 2020 campaign, with an equally bad if not worse 2021. Pitching is in absolute dire need. Their team ERA of 5.02 is an absolute joke. The only bright spot was starter Lance Lynn who had a 3.32 ERA last season in 13 games started. The offense had a league-worst .217 batting average. Even Joey Gallo, “the star” of the team, hit an awful .181. I see the Rangers being sellers for the 2021 season, perhaps shipping Gallo and Lynn at the trade deadline. Simply put, the Rangers need to rebuild.